Here are my notes from Episode 006: A Gift Only For You
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You know that feeling you get when you give someone a gift? Yea, it feels good doesn’t it!? I love surprising Amy and the girls and giving them gifts, especially when it isn’t Christmas or their birthdays, and it’s not something they are expecting. I love watching my girls light-up when I return from a trip with a surprise gift. It’s so fun to see them enjoy the moment. I enjoy the moment.
God knows that we love receiving gifts. He made us this way. As parents, He has created us to find joy in one of the greatest gifts He has ever given us – our children! When God gave you your son or daughter, He gave you an irreplaceable and indescribable gift. And, everyday, He wants you to find joy in the unique gift that is meant only for YOU as a parent to YOUR children. I’m going to remind you of this on today’s episode: A Gift Only For You
With the hustle and busy in all of our lives, it can be easy to forget about this gift as we focus on just getting from one day to the next. In this episode of Family Strong, I’m going to remind you of this one-of-a-kind gift God has given you – – the gift of being a parent to your child. This episode is an important one for every family, and I’m glad you’ve tuned in. This is Jeffrey Dean. Let’s do this.
Years ago a father and mother were forced to abandon their child. They were convinced it would be the only way to protect their son’s life from a ruthless dictator. At first, they kept their baby nearby. But after three months they placed him in a small watertight vessel and set him afloat in a river. Can you imagine doing this with your three-month old child?
This entire story is recorded for us in the Bible in Exodus chapter 2:
A man of the tribe of Levi married a Levite woman, and she became pregnant and gave birth to a son. When she saw that he was a fine child, she hid him for three months. (She did this because the Pharaoh of Egypt had ordered the execution of every Hebrew-born male. That story is recorded one chapter previous to this one in the Bible in Exodus 1:8–16).
But when she could hide him no longer, she got a papyrus basket for him and coated it with tar and pitch. Then she placed the child in it and put it among the reeds along the bank of the Nile. His sister stood at a distance to see what would happen to him.
Then Pharaoh’s daughter went down to the Nile to bathe, and her attendants were walking along the riverbank. She saw the basket among the reeds and sent her female slave to get it. She opened it and saw the baby. He was crying, and she felt sorry for him. “This is one of the Hebrew babies,” she said.
Then his sister asked Pharaoh’s daughter, “Shall I go and get one of the Hebrew women to nurse the baby for you?”
“Yes, go,” she answered. So, the girl went and got the baby’s mother. Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, “Take this baby and nurse him for me, and I will pay you.” So, the woman took the baby and nursed him. When the child grew older, she took him to Pharaoh’s daughter, and he became her son. She named him Moses, saying, “I drew him out of the water.”
We don’t know much about Moses’s Egyptian stepmother. We don’t even know her name. But we do know – she was fearless. She violated a pronouncement of her father, a murderous tyrant who had ordered the execution of every Hebrew-born male. Moses’s stepmother knew the risk involved in bringing a Hebrew infant into the palace to live, but she did it anyway.
It wasn’t as if Pharaoh’s daughter came home and said, “Dad, I accidentally ran a chariot into the side of one of your pyramids.” No, she came home knowing full well that Dad hated the Hebrews and wanted their baby sons dead. Then she introduced Dad the tyrant to his newest step-grandson, a Hebrew. I wish I could have heard THAT conversation!
Did it just so happen that on the same day Moses’s parents placed him in the Nile River, he was found by someone who had the power and resources to protect him? Is it a fluke that the one who found a baby boy and chose to keep him was the daughter of the dictator who ordered the murder of all Hebrew male babies?
There is nothing coincidental ABOUT this story. God chose the daughter of Pharaoh, the most powerful man on the planet, to be the stepmother of a son. The son, a Hebrew, would do great things for God and eventually lead His people out of the land of the Egyptian king.
Pharaoh’s daughter seemingly is one of THE most important people in the Old Testament. Though she isn’t known for ascending to the throne, she forever will be known as one chosen by God to fulfill a critical role. She was the only daughter of an Egyptian king, and she became a mother to Moses. God chose her for this purpose.
Likewise, God could have chosen anyone to be the parent of your child. But He didn’t choose just anyone; he chose you. This is no coincidence. No other parent is capable of doing the job He created you to do. Did you hear this? Let me say this again…
God could have chosen anyone to be the parent of your child. But He didn’t choose just anyone; he chose you. This is no coincidence. No other parent is capable of doing the job He created you to do.
If anyone else had rescued Moses, he would not have received the type of education and upbringing he needed to fulfill the call God placed on his life. The same is true for your child. The unique plan God has for your son or daughter is founded on the reality that God chose you to be his or her parent. Even before your son or daughter drew a breath, God was preparing you to be the parent to lead them every step of the way.
I hope I neve forget the feeling I felt on the day that both of my daughters, Bailey and Brynnan, were born. Words can’t describe the joy I felt as I stood in the delivery room holding Bailey, our first daughter. It was instant love. A nurse showed up to take Bailey to the hospital nursery for her first nap outside the womb. I walked to the nursery, where, gazing through the window with tear-blurred eyes, I watched my daughter sleep.
I repeated much the same experience two years later with the birth of our second daughter, Brynnan. After each of our daughters was born, I wanted to take her into my arms and never let go.
I had visions of being Super Dad, never messing up, doing everything I could to ensure they would have a perfect life. I took a deep breath and said, “I’m a dad. We’ll have so much fun!” And almost as quickly I thought, I’m a dad. Help!
Do you remember the hopes and dreams you had for your baby? Do you remember your instant love? It’s no wonder God describes himself as our “Everlasting Father” in Isaiah 9:6. There is no love on earth that is more unconditional than that of a parent for his or her child.
Yet change happens fast for our kids. One minute they rely on us for everything. Then, in a blink, they are heading off to prom. Whatever the age of your teen, he or she faces a world that is always changing. And not only is the world constantly changing, but so is your kid.
“My boys are entering the teen years, and I’ll admit that I’m uneasy. I remember the things I struggled with and the thoughts I had as a middle school boy. I can’t believe I have two boys who are going to be dealing with similar challenges. And I’m not sure I’m prepared to help lead them through it all.” – Father of two sons
Can you relate? I’ve counseled countless parents who feel the same.
Growing up is inevitable. It is your child’s God-given path to becoming the person he or she was created to be. Your child is exploring who he or she is and what really matters most. However, your child was not created to set out alone on the journey to adulthood. He or she needs you. But Satan wants them to believe otherwise. He works overtime to convince you and them that a strong parent-child relationship is no longer necessary. This is what Family Strong is all about – this is why I’m here…to call out Satan for the liar that he is and to show you how to combat his lies.
For over twenty-five years I have spoken in front of more than four million people in churches, elementary, middle and high schools, detention centers, conferences, music festivals, and other venues. I have had innumerable conversations with children, tweens, teens, and college students on almost every topic imaginable. We talk about God, eternity, purpose, dating, identity, heaven, hell, social media, sex, pornography, cutting, addictions, divorce, homosexuality, friendships, dating, witnessing, college, and more.
I also have had countless conversations with pastors, parents, school administrators, law-enforcement officials, and social workers who ask me deep questions about life, challenges, and culture. Though their questions vary and many of the people asking aren’t people of faith, I can summarize their questions as “How do we protect our kids from the onslaught of lies they hear as we guide them in making the choices that will influence the rest of their lives?”
My answer in every instance is “Mom and Dad!”
A child’s parents are the answer in every instance. I can say this first because it’s true and second because I’m a parent too. I see firsthand the influence I have over my daughters as they learn to live by watching how my wife and I live. Bailey and Brynnan watch my life more than they realize.
Even the angry, dismissive, and disrespectful kids are busy developing their worldviews on life, God, love, sex, friends, money, church, politics, marriage, and entertainment. Much of what they look to for direction is what they see in their parents’ lives.
Parents are given a task that is the hardest and most rewarding of all. God didn’t haphazardly choose you and me for this job. Bailey and Brynnan are my kids because God chose Amy and me to be the earthly parents to His children. Bailey and Brynnan are gifts from God. The same is true for you and your children.
“Children are a gift from the Lord; babies are a reward.” – Psalm 127:3
Satan knows that God has big stuff in store for your son or daughter, and Satan will do everything he can to crash the party. It is critical that you understand that Satan hates your children. I say this often on the Family Strong Podcast because it is so true!
No matter what stands out about child—star athlete, honor-roll student, musician, or volunteer working with the homeless – – Satan hates THEM because he doesn’t want God to WIN.
Think about it – – who gave Pharaoh the idea in 1526 BC to kill all the Hebrew boys? Satan did! Why? Because he knew what God had promised Abraham in Genesis 15:18. God said:
“To your descendants I give this land.” – Genesis 15:18
Satan also knew what God had promised Abraham’s son Isaac in Genesis 26:3:
“Stay in this land for a while, and I will be with you and will bless you. For to you and your descendants I will give all these lands and will confirm the oath I swore to your father Abraham.” -Genesis 26:3
AND Satan knew exactly what God had promised Abraham’s grandson Jacob in Genesis 28:13:
“I am the LORD, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac. I will give you and your descendants the land on which you are lying.” – Genesis 28:13
Satan knew that God was working toward something big, and he wanted to do everything he could to stop God’s plan. He continues to work against God’s plan and promise. If anything, he has upped his game.
Why do you think so many Gen Zs feel the pressure to give it all away sexually, even when so many parents raise them to live otherwise?
Who do you think is behind every tear that runs down the faces of girls who fall for these lies?
~ “You’ll never be as pretty as she is.”
~ “You’re so fat. No one will ever love you looking like that!”
~ “If you don’t go all the way with him, he’s going to move on to someone who will.”
And what about the lies that tear down the confidence, self-image, and faith of teenage boys?
~ “Porn is no big deal. Everyone’s looking at it, but no one talks about it. So keep quiet.”
~ “You’ll never get accepted to college with your grades. You better look for a way to cheat without getting caught or you’ll never make the grade.”
~ “Just drop a little of that into your date’s drink and she won’t remember anything that happens tonight.”
Maybe your child hasn’t fallen for such lies. Or maybe he or she has. It’s possible, you don’t even know!
But no matter how the situation appears to you, every child is only one choice consequence, only one turn from tragedy.
When a young person tells me about his or her worst fears and mounting failures, I usually can connect the dots backward from that child’s hurt to his or her home.
Specifically, teens often ask me questions such as “Why is my mom too busy to spend time with me?” or “Why does my dad spend more time with my brother than with me?” I have cried along with many girls and boys who can’t understand why their parents don’t communicate with them.
It would be foolish of me to tell you, “Be a good parent and all will be well with your child.” We know that’s not the secret to success. It would be equally foolish for me to ignore all I have learned from listening to Gen Zs who long for help, hope, and hugs from a parent. So many students I speak with wonder why their parents choose instead to just check out.
The fact that you are listening here is evidence that you have NOT checked out in your kid’s life. So kudos to you! My intent with this weeks’ episode of Family Strong is to remind you that being a parent truly is a wonderful thing – it’s a gift! It’s a priceless gift that you have been given.
When someone gives you a gift, what is your immediate response?
“I’d really rather have been given something else.” Or…
“This is going straight to the re-gift pile!”
“I hope there’s a gift receipt here somewhere.”
What should be your immediate response? My mama taught me to say thank you no matter how I felt about the gift.
As I mentioned earlier, Psalm 127:3 insists that “children are a gift from the LORD; they are a reward from him.” With that truth in mind, my response to God will hopefully always be: “God, thank You for my children.”
So, how do you parent as a thankful mom or dad? Probably in many ways! Here’s one to think about:
Ask God, “How can I honor You as I parent my son or daughter?”
Imagine if every parent paused to ask God’s direction on all things involved in parenting. What if each of us asked questions such as these:
~ “How can I honor God by what our family watches on television and in movies?”
~ “How can I honor God by what I teach my daughter about sex, love, and dating?”
~ “How can I honor God by teaching my son appropriate use of his cell phone or socials?”
~ “How can I honor God by ensuring my family is in the Word consistently?”
~ “How can I honor God by what I teach my children about music, the world, evangelism, politics, friendships, helping the poor, finances, and choosing a career?”
You know, with parenting, it can be easy to fall into the trap of gauging the effectiveness of our parenting skills on how “good” or how “bad” we think our kids are doing with life – in school, sports, with friends, or their grades…
Maybe you think your kid appears to be doing well, so you aren’t sure why you should keep listening to a podcast for families focused on parenting.
Or, maybe the choices your son or daughter has made so far have left your family at the breaking point. You feel hopeless, ready to call it quits.
Here are three truths you need to hold on to:
1. It’s irrelevant whether your son or daughter is in a good or bad place right now.
Satan hates kids who are conscientious, responsible, and compassionate just as much as he hates those who are bullies, refuse to accept responsibility, and remain on probation after breaking the law. He doesn’t base his disdain for your child on whether he or she makes the honor roll or does meth. Satan wants every child, including your child, to fail.
2. No matter how it looks on the surface, every Gen Z is trying to answer questions such as “Who am I?” “What am I going to do with my life?” and “Who will give me the answers I need about life, love, college, finances, sex, and gender identity? and more!”
Everyone has to consider our culture’s fluid definitions of right and wrong. The disregard for moral absolutes and the roller-coaster definitions of truth and falsehood create a toxic environment through which my kids and yours must find their way mentally and spiritually.
3. Social media is ever present.
Snapchat and Instagram are a way of life for most kids. Posting to Snapchat is the first thing they do in the morning and often the last thing in the evening—like a ritual of life. Cell phones are vital appendages. Social media platforms rule the world, in part because they cater to our increasingly brief attention spans.
Social media, along with all other forms of media, delivers a constant flow of images, video, and content that is of questionable value.
This week’s Family Focus.
“Jeffrey, my son recently found himself in the middle of a social media nightmare via Snapchat. After meeting a girl at a party, my son “friended” the girl. What began as an innocent streak (that’s Snapchat lingo for a photo conversation between two people) eventually spiraled out of control a few months later. It ended with the issuance of a restraining order against the girl to protect my son from a neurotic, self-destructive girl looking for attention and willing to do just about whatever to feel secure. This entire situation has revealed to us the reality of this new world we are all living in – social media has changed the way we all are living…and it requires us to keep up with it all!” – Marcy, a mom of a teen boy
Thank you Marcy. What a tough way to learn about the realities AND dangers of social media. Social media has changed the way the world communicates. Marcy reminds us that it demands that we, as parents, understand how it is shaping our families, and specifically, our children!
Last, your children want and need an involved, engaged, all-in parent.
I’ve made some notes from numerous conversations I’ve had with Gen Zs who speak with me at my events. Listen to some of these heart-wrenching statements I’ve recently heard:
~ “My dad lives at home, but he really ‘left’ us years ago.”
~ “I never read the Bible with members of my family, much less pray with them.”
~ “I can’t remember the last time my mom told me ‘I love you.’”
~ “We never eat dinner together as a family unless we are watching Netflix.”
~ “I wish my parents would let me talk about what’s really going on. They never seem to listen, but they’re good at screaming.”
~ “I’m pretty sure my parents wouldn’t care if I just disappeared forever.”
Do these comments just break your heart? They do mine!
Tweens & teens tell me, even when their words may not say it, “I need Mom and Dad in it with me every day.”
The fact that you are listening indicates you have big dreams for your son or daughter and want to be the parent he or she needs. Although we often don’t know what our kids are thinking or feeling, we are called to dream big, pray like mad, and never give up hope.
This is episode 6 of our first season of Family Strong. And, I’d like to ask something of you – – I want you to make a commitment to stay the course and not get frustrated as we talk about life, God, the culture, and parenting as it relates to your kids.
In upcoming episodes, you’re going to hear some things you WILL NOT like.
You will hear me talk about trends and tell stories that you will not want to believe.
It is also possible you will hear some things you won’t think you NEED to believe.
But I guarantee that everything I write in my books AND everything I give you on Family Strong is critical for you as a parent. AND, this is really important, your family is counting on your commitment to stick it out and have patience and apply what I am giving you where you need to.
I have three critical commitments I want you to make. I want to encourage you to download the episode notes from today so that you can keep these notes, these three commitments nearby as a reminder. You may want to print these notes and keep them in your bible or journal…somewhere close so that you can be reminded of these three. You can get the notes of episode 6 at: jeffreydean.com forward slash and the number 6 – – – jeffreydean.com/6
Commitment 1: I’m All In!
Maybe you are thinking, Family Strong isn’t for me. My marriage is great. My kids are doing great! My child is plugged in at church, goes to summer camp, and is excelling at school. Or maybe you are at the other end of the spectrum. Your son or daughter is about to graduate. He or she has made choices that have pushed your family to the brink. You are feeling hopeless, ready to give up on it all.
Wherever your situation, Family Strong IS FOR YOU. Your husband needs you to be all in. Your wife needs you to be all in. Your KIDS need you to be all in!
You have a lot to look forward to and get ready for, and it’s never too soon or too late to be all in.
Commitment 2: I’m All Ears!
No matter what it looks like on the surface, my kids and yours struggles with temptations, fears, and challenges. My daughters Bailey and Brynnan and your children have to navigate the confusing waters of today’s culture. Let me say it again: Every child is only one choice from consequence, only one turn from tragedy. It’s important you realize this before moving forward.
Even a Jesus-loving, church-attending child who is a straight-A student will deal with extreme challenges during the journey from child to adult. Remember, Satan doesn’t care if our kid are on the honor roll. No matter our child’s grades, talent, or beauty, the devil hates my kids and your kids!
I’m going to challenge you to implement some steps that, at the moment, may seem unnecessary or unrealistic. And, I’M ASKING YOU TO TRUST ME!
I urge you to resist the desire to move quickly past these topics and instead take these issues to God, asking Him to reveal what He would have you hear and implement as it pertains to your son or daughter. Proverbs 1:5 says, “Let the wise listen and add to their learning, and let the discerning get guidance.” As you continue with me on Family Strong, make it your prayer to listen to what God would have you hear, and then do what He would have you do.
Let me say that again: As you continue with me on Family Strong, make it your prayer to listen to what God would have you hear, and then do what He would have you do.
Commitment 3: I’m All His!
Just because you listen to Family Strong and apply its advice does not mean that your son or daughter will choose to embrace a God-focused life. No matter how hard you work at being the best mom or dad, your child is a human being with free will. He or she can and will mess it all up—more than once.
You and I need all the help we can get. Parenting is tough. We need God at the center of our lives. I want to challenge you to surrender your will, your wants, your theories, and your priorities to God every day. Ask Him (and mean it) to lead every area of your life. Remember, God could have chosen anyone to be the parent of your child. But He didn’t choose just anyone; He chose you!
Let’s end today’s episode thanking God for choosing you and me:
“God, thank you for choosing me to be a parent. Just as you chose the daughter of a Pharaoh to parent a Hebrew child, you have chosen me to be a parent today. Please lead me, give me wisdom, give me patience and give me what I need each day to be the parent my child needs. I know it is an honor to be a parent. Help me do my part each day to lead my family as we become family strong.”
Jeffrey Dean is a family influencer, author, and counselor whose mission is to help build strong families. For information about having Jeffrey speak in your community, contact our office.